Music And Pleasure Are Closely Linked, According To Science
You know that feeling when your favorite song comes on and you suddenly get a rush of energy? Well, there is actually some scientific proof behind that burst of excitement. Studies show that music actually “creates pleasure in part by acting upon the brain’s opioid system.” The chemicals released by the brain through this neurochemical pathway are the same substances produced from activities like sex, gambling, eating sugary foods, and similar opiates like heroin.
There’s a reason soothing sounds are played while you’re getting a massage or why motivational music is the key before a big performance. Ethnomusicologist (someone who studies music in its cultural context) Alexandre Tannous sees music as a method for healing and uses a combination of sound and meditation to help people with emotional struggles. This way of thinking is nothing new and according to Tannous, has been noted by philosophers like Plato, Socrates and Pythagoras.
While research by Valorie Salimpoor, from the Rotman Research Institute, demonstrates how dopamine is involved in the “reward” associated with music, Joseph Marco-Pallarés, a neuroscientist at the University of Barcelona, claims that the Scientific Reports paper is the first, that he knows of, to “conclusively show opioids also play a role in the [reward] sensation.” Marco-Pallarés also notes that music can be used to dull pain.
Music is at the very root of every culture and continues to shine through in almost every aspect of our lives. A professor at Vanderbilt University, David Zald, says that music usually ranks above money, food, or visual art, among the top 10 things that give them pleasure, and in that case, music can be viewed as a “healthy addiction.”